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The White House decided against contact tracing a Rose Garden celebration on Sept. 26 where at least eight people—including the president—may have gotten infected with COVID-19. Nor is the White House asking the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for help. Apparently, there is not a lot Mayor Muriel Bowser’s administration can do, even though the White House outbreak could impact the rest of the city. There is no actual divide between federal and local D.C., despite the way “Washington” is generally talked about. 

Not everyone who tested positive is in Donald Trump’s inner circle. Two members of the White House housekeeping staff tested positive, along with three unnamed journalists and a White House staffer. Without robust contract tracing—the only tool public health experts have for understanding and containing an outbreak—it will be challenging to prevent any more infections. 

Will the White House outbreak impact D.C.’s case count? Notably, the city has seen its daily case rate decline since August, leading Bowser to reopen 13 schools last month and the rest of preschool and K-5 schools starting in November

“Obviously we are concerned about the spread of COVID-19. Period,” said Bowser during Monday’s press conference. “We are especially concerned with people following scientifically justified protocols to contain the spread of the virus—that is for D.C. residents, that is for D.C. workers, and that is also people who are on federal properties including the White House.”    

“DC Health won’t be talking about specific White House cases,” Bowser added. 

Is D.C. even counting White House cases? DC Health only counts D.C. residents (Trump, for example, lists Florida as his residence) and only investigates D.C. residents or anyone who gets tested through a D.C. provider or testing site. (As of Oct. 2, DC Health successfully investigated 74.2 percent of positive cases, but less than 50 percent provided close contact information.) 

Is D.C. going to force White House cases to quarantine? “We are not allowed to take legal action by someone’s perception of an individual being a close contact,” says Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt. DC Health needs to independently confirm a close contact. 

Has the mayor’s team been in touch with the White House? Bowser says they’ve reached out on “a political level and public health level” to offer assistance. 

How the hell was the Rose Garden celebration even allowed to happen if D.C. bans small gatherings of more than 50 people? The ban does not apply to federal property. 

The White House’s response to its own outbreak has D.C. residents on edge. The mayor’s chief of staff noted an 81 percent increase in testing at public sites on Monday compared to that time last week. 

“While we do not have data on what compelled people to get tested today, it would be hard to imagine that the recent news did not drive more people to do so,” John Falcicchio tells City Paper. “We will continue to monitor the demand this week and urge residents if they need a test to get a test.”

—Amanda Michelle Gomez (tips? agomez@washingtoncitypaper.com

Teachers’, Principals’, and Nurses’ Unions Remain Unsatisfied With Officials’ Plans for Safely Reopening DC Public Schools

During a press conference on Monday, Mayor Muriel Bowser‘s administration announced that DC Public Schools […]

  • As of Oct. 6, D.C. reported no deaths related to COVID-1 but 105 positive cases, the highest one-day total since June 2.More context: D.C. saw over 8,000 tests between Oct. 4 and 5, so increased testing helps to explain increased cases. The total number of infections is now 15,652. And as of Oct. 2, D.C.’s positivity rate is 1.9 percent. [EOM]
  • Tenants learn of their eviction cases through private process servers. An investigation shows hundreds of times when a prolific server failed to notify tenants and they lost their homes. [DCist]
  • DC Health explains how to celebrate Halloween in the time of COVID-19. [EOM]

By Amanda Michelle Gomez (tips? agomez@washingtoncitypaper.com

  • A guide to the at-large D.C. Council race. [DCist]
  • Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie introduces a bill to study reparations for descendants of enslaved people. [Post]
  • The D.C. Bar’s at-large Council debates begin tonight. [DC Bar]
  • Mayor Bowser and Chairman Mendelson haven’t given a penny to needy residents out of their constituent services funds. [Post
  • Greater Greater Washington announces ANC endorsements in wards 1 and 2. [GGW]

By Mitch Ryals (tips? mryals@washingtoncitypaper.com)

These D.C.-Area Beer Gardens Now Take Reservations

Beer gardens don’t customarily take reservations. Anyone who has seen the snaking line at Dacha […]

  • David Chang’s delivery-only fried chicken sandwiches land in D.C. [Washingtonian]
  • Where to find biscuits if you’re craving comfort food. [Eater DC]

By Laura Hayes (tips? lhayes@washingtoncitypaper.com)

  • Local theaters are getting interactive during the pandemic. [DCist]
  • People remember the great shows they saw at U Street Music Hall. [Washingtonian]
  • The National Zoo’s giant panda cub is a boy. [Smithsonian]

By Kayla Randall (tips? krandall@washingtoncitypaper.com)

  • The Caps are the “clear frontrunner” to sign veteran goalie Henrik Lundqvist, according to TSN. [NBC Sports Washington]
  • It’s only a scrimmage video, but John Wall looks ready to play again. [Bullets Forever]
  • Dwayne Haskins Jr.’s agent criticized what he feels has been an unfair “narrative” about the quarterback and his struggles on the field. [Radio.com]

By Kelyn Soong (tips? ksoong@washingtoncitypaper.com)

City Lights: “Pandemic Perspectives” Draws Inspiration From the Past

Since COVID-19 became a pandemic, the overuse of words like “uncertain” and “unprecedented” has been […]

By Emma Sarappo (tips? esarappo@washingtoncitypaper.com)